Here's How To Figure Out The Best Pumping Schedule For You & Your Baby

Deciding when to do things, whether a household chore or exercise session, is as much about finding the best time of day as it is about making room in your schedule. So you save the dishes for the end of the day, when your brain is too tired to do mental work, and you try to exercise first thing before other priorities inevitably come up. If you plan to feed your baby with expressed breast milk, you'll want to know when is the best time to pump? Timing is especially crucial when it comes to pumping because the time of day can affect how much milk you get.

Experts usually recommend pumping in the morning to get the most milk in one session. What To Expect suggested pumping for about an hour after your baby first nurses. Why is the morning a magical time to pump? Tommee Tippee explained that your milk-producing hormones work while you sleep. This is why you may wake up feeling engorged or very full if you didn't nurse during the night. Also, if you pump at the same time of day, everyday, your body will fall into a routine and be ready to deliver milk at the appointed hour.

Beyond the morning, finding the best time to pump often comes down to your body and your schedule. If you're still breastfeeding and with your baby most of the time, "pump between breastfeeding, either 30 to 60 minutes after nursing or at least one hour before breastfeeding. This should leave plenty of milk for your baby at your next feeding," according to Ameda's Breast Pumping Guide. Pumping alongside breastfeeding can enable you to leave your child with another caregiver from time to time. If you're on maternity leave from a job you plan to return to, pumping before you go back to work helps you stockpile breast milk in your freezer.

Once you go back to work, pumping can get trickier. What To Expect recommends pumping on a schedule that resembles your baby's usual feeding schedule. Some mothers use car adapters and hands-free pumping bras (you can buy a fancy one or just cut holes out of an old sports bra) to pump during a commute. Of course, you'll also need to pump during the work day. Don't wait until you go back to find out how your company plans to accommodate your pumping schedule. Before or during your maternity leave, it's wise to talk to your supervisor and/or HR department about where you will pump and when.

The good news about pumping at work is that your milk supply should generally be established at this point. You can skip night pumpings and, if your baby cooperates, get the sleep you so desperately need to function. Pumping sessions will usually be shorter at this point — about 10 to 15 minutes — so they shouldn't interrupt your work flow too much if you pump about four times during an eight-hour workday. Having trouble with milk letdown? Many mothers look at pictures or videos of their baby in order to stimulate oxytocin and milk expression.

Overall, finding the best time to pump is about discovering what works for you. Plenty of women intend to pump after going back to work, but then find it's not working well. Don't feel guilty about reducing your pumping sessions or stopping altogether. As a wise friend of mine put it, "I realized I don't have to do this." However many weeks or months of breast milk you've already given your baby is a gift that will continue to provide health benefits. In the end, a happy and healthy mother is essential to having a happy and healthy baby.

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